Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn is book number 2 in the trilogy set. While I had some fun with the first book, with what getting to know more about Thrawn and all, here in the sequel not so much. Although still a decent read and by no means something to skip over, the magic seems to have been lost. While the writing by this great author holds up to the test, it doesn’t automatically get a pass from me and from what I’m seeing, neither did many other reviewers.
To start things off, the story alternates between the present and the past when Anakin meets Thrawn for the first time. When it switches back to the present timeline, it is now Darth Vader that Thrawn needs to work with, hence the book title. However, Darth Vader has a difficult time trusting Thrawn due to him having a hard time getting a read on the Chiss and therefore, not knowing exactly where Thrawn’s loyalty is. Is it the Empire or to his home world and own species? As a result, tension is high when they are forced to work together on a mission set by the emperor. In my opinion, this is the best part about this book It is very rare to encounter Darth Vader at such a vulnerable state. Although Jedi Anakin Skywalker is dead to him, he can’t help but recall memories of his past when him and Thrawn had worked so well together as a pair.
For all she could tell from his helmet faceplate, he could be taking a quick nap in there. – Commodore Faro
So where’s the problem? To me, it’s due to having both the present and the past timelines being not that very interesting to read. The story with Anakin, Thrawn and Padme of the past dealing with the Separatists on a planet in the Unknown Regions can be considered below average. The present timeline with Vader, Thrawn and their respective crews are only somewhat better. In fact, I actually had slight difficulties following this present timeline not that it was difficult to understand but it was mainly in the details of the battles and ship formations of the enemies, etc. Maybe I just didn’t give a hoot? Another thing I’m getting a bit tired of is Thrawn’s bulls*** of being able to so correctly analyze a situation each and every time and be able to come up with a plan in that very instant. It was fun to read about his abilities in the first book but it’s getting just a tad bit corny and it’s only book number two! Maybe if the situation or scenarios he was put in were a bit more interesting I wouldn’t have minded so much.
“You have a reputation for seeing that which others do not.” – Darth Vader
While I have zero doubts of finishing this trilogy with book three, I’m a little worried at what I might find. The only really saving point of Alliances is reading the interaction between Vader and Thrawn himself. It definitely created some very tense moments.